On September 28 and 29, politicians and corporate representatives in our nation’s capital will again be besieged by tens of thousands of protesters opposing their agenda of war and corporate globalization. What’s happening in DC at the end of September to warrant all this protest? The International Monetary Fund and World Bank are having their annual fall meeting.
IMF/World Bank protest, Washington
Oppose corporate globalisation and war
The last IMF and World Bank meeting in DC, on April 20th, was met by 40,000 – 75,000 protestors in a powerful demonstration against Sharon’s invasion of the West Bank, Bush’s wars as well as the IMF and World Bank. Below, Greg Beiter explains why thousands will be converging in DC on September 28 again to show their opposition to Bush’s plans for war on Iraq and the IMF and World Bank.
Fight Bush’s Right-Wing Corporate Agenda
In the months immediately following September 11th, Americans felt the need to stand behind the President in the War against Terrorism. But now that is beginning to wear off. George W. Bush’s popularity is dwindling.
A recent CBS/NY Times poll found that 61% of Americans felt that the Bush Administration was more interested in protecting the interests of large corporations rather than ordinary Americans (NY Times 7/18/02). And for good reason. After only a couple of months in office, he shoved through a tax cut for the rich at the expense of education and social services.
Bush is taking advantage of the "War on Terrorism" to justify attacks on our rights and civil liberties to strengthen the power of the government. In August, he threatened to replace 10,500 west coast longshore workers with federal troops if they were to go on strike to defend their jobs and benefits. Bush intended to break the union and inflict a major defeat on organized labor and the working class.
He’s also trying to sever the union contracts of the federal workers who will be working for his new Department of "Homeland Security." According to Bush, anyone who opposes big business’s unbridled exploitation of workers is supporting terrorism.
Of course, there’s also his theft of the 2000 elections, rejection of the Kyoto environmental treaty, raiding of Social Security to pay for the bombing of Afghanistan, withdrawal of support for overseas organizations providing abortion services, and his plans to drill for oil in the Alaska Wildlife National Refuge.
But most ordinary Americans and young people realize the complicity of the Democrats in many of Bush’s policies. In fact, the vast majority of the Democrats in Congress have supported and voted for his pro-big business programs. Any opposition from the Democrats is certain to be anemic and only for the purpose of getting themselves elected and furthering their political careers.
The demonstrations against the IMF and World Bank on the weekend of September 28-29 will be an excellent opportunity to build a movement to challenge Bush’s corporate rule and link the movements against corporate globalization and war into one united, powerful movement.
However, the best way we can fight Bush is by organizing independent of the twin parties of big business. Through the formation of a new left party that stands up for workers, students, young people, immigrants and oppressed peoples, we can challenge Bush and his cronies on the political plain and defeat him.
Why Protest the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank?
The International Monetary Fund and World Bank (IMF/WB) are very frustrated. It appears that they can’t throw a self-congratulatory party to cynically champion the work they claim to have done in "combating global poverty" without tens of thousands of uninvited guests showing up to steal the show. Fearing just this, the IMF/WB recently scaled back their meeting schedule from an entire week to just one weekend.
The IMF/WB are desperate to change their unpopular reputation with the vast majority of people in the world. Mass movements and general strikes in Latin America have recently challenged the years of plunder of the continent by the IMF. The IMF/WB are widely understood to be the tools of US capitalism’s economic, political and military domination of the world.
The World Bank loans money to developing countries for the purpose of building power plants, road and other "infrastructure". The IMF screens the countries for their "eligibility" to receive loans. Howver, these loans come at a heavy price. The IMF only decides to loan money to countries if they accept what’s known as "Structural Adjustment Programs" (SAPs).
SAPs are used as a mechanism to force countries to privatize publicly owned industries. These industries are then raffled off to foreign companies at bargain basement prices. SAPs also result in the elimination of laws protecting the environment and the health and safety of workers, which are deemed "barriers to free trade."
The IMF/WB loans and exorbitant interest rates have trapped the former colonial countries in a vicious cycle of perpetual debt. They now pay the West nine times more in debt repayment than they receive in "aid" from Western countries.
The IMF and its corporate backers fear more Latin American countries following the example of Argentina and defaulting on their debt. They’re looking to privatize more public utilities, slash more social programs, and put millions of workers out of work to squeeze debt payments out of countries close to defaulting. That’s why it’s crucial that we show up in Washington and demand that the IMF cancel the debt to all developing countries.
The recent political upheaval in Latin America points a way forward in effective methods to defeat the IMF/WB and cancel the debt. Through mass protests, general strikes and political campaigns, the working class is more powerful than the largest corporations and banks.